Special Educators: You are SO appreciated!!

Recently, a friend posted a list of all her elementary school teachers on Facebook and challenged her friends to do the same as a memory exercise. With the exception of kindergarten, I was able to quickly compile a complete list of my grammar school teachers, as well as homeroom teachers from high school. Even after all these years, I can still vividly see in my mind’s eye each teacher, hear their voices, and in many cases, remember something about each of them. This is quite remarkable, considering that I often don’t remember more recent occurrences! Yet, it actually makes a lot of sense when I reflect upon this phenomenon just a little more: each of my teachers made me feel valued in some way during my elementary and high school years. The only exception was my kindergarten teacher, who was impatient, yelled often, and was clearly overwhelmed by the large class that she had. No wonder I couldn’t remember her name- I didn’t want to! You may forget what someone tells you, but you will never forget how someone makes you feel, even after 50+ years!

Teaching is a noble profession, a true calling to influence and mold the minds of our children. It’s also a huge responsibility that requires the utmost patience, creativity, and enthusiasm. Master educators make their teaching look effortless, but the reality of what it takes to prepare lessons and execute them, manage a classroom, plus interface with parents and school administration, is no easy feat, especially year after year. Having been on the “teaching side of the fence” for 5 years, I can attest to all of this and have often wondered how do teachers persevere for the long term? I’m not so sure if I could have lasted for 20+years, and it was clearly no contest once Brian was born. My formal days of classroom teaching were exchanged for a lifelong teaching assignment. No formal education or teaching experiences could have ever prepared me for raising Brian. It has been quite an adventure, to say the least, and in many respects, more life-changing than I would have ever imagined. Yet, my connection to the classroom is still quite strong because of Brian’s teachers. Like Brian, I am a student too, and have learned a great deal from the educators who have taught Brian over the past 13 years.

The overwhelming majority of Brian’s teachers have been dedicated professionals who have my utmost respect. But a few were also awful and quite frankly, did not belong teaching children with multiple disabilities. There is no doubt that Brian’s challenges are many, yet, I never understood why certain teachers basically gave up on him, refusing to teach “out of the box” or consider my recommendations so that he could learn. As a result, I am even more grateful for those teachers who go above and beyond for Brian and other students, to ensure their learning successes.

Thankfully, Brian has been most fortunate that the majority of his teachers care and want him to learn, doing whatever it takes to make this happen. There is nothing more heartwarming for a parent to see than their child enjoying their school experience and learning. This was not always the case for Brian, but with time, the right school, and a strong home and school collaboration, we are currently in a “good place”. It has truly taken a village to make this happen for Brian over a period of time, with those dedicated teachers leading the charge! Brian’s teachers have been amazing over the years, each one bringing their unique gifts and strengths to the table. I have personally learned so much from our collaborations and am indebted to those teachers for helping my son to learn, for I know it requires a lot! In honor of Brian’s special education teachers (which also includes teacher assistants and therapists), I wish to cite reasons why special education teacher appreciation should be formally recognized on a daily basis:

Special Education Teacher Appreciation Day- Every Day!

Dedicated to the Special Educators who teach, love, and inspire special needs students :

1. You could have selected any profession, but you chose to teach special education students because you know they can learn, despite their disabilities.

2. You customize your lessons according to the multiple abilities of the students in your classroom, going to a lot of effort to ensure that each student will benefit from your teaching.

3. Your patience, persistence, and fortitude with each of your special students, day after day, year after year, is nothing short of amazing!

4. You are an extremely valuable resource that both your special students and their families come to depend upon.

5. Your ability to advocate on behalf of your special students when necessary is both a relief and an inspiration to the families.

6. You really care about your special students and it shows, both in your actions and in the behavior of your students.

7. You don’t give up on your students- you will do what it takes to help them, because you believe in them.

8. You are respectful, open, and willing to take parents suggestions to heart and put them into practice to help their special children learn.

9. You are as excited about student progress, no matter how small, as much as the students and parents are!

10. You willingly deal with trying behaviors, loads of paperwork, and other numerous frustrations because you believe your special students are worth it.

11. You have inspired parents to keep going and to believe in their special child’s abilities, especially during the times when learning can be so arduous.

12. You will always be remembered for what you taught your special students and how you made them feel, both precious gifts that mean more than you can ever imagine!

Thank you, beloved special educators, for all that you do; it doesn’t go unnoticed! I know that Brian would tell you the exact same thing if he could!❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Until next time, thanks for reading! 😊

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